The Missing Piece in Psychiatry- Holism
One of the six philosophies of naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person.
Perhaps you may have witnessed this yourself and felt like something was missing?
Therapy and medication do have a place in mental health, but are they the sole solution to all the trauma and brain health issues we are up against today?
Recently, alarming statistics have been brought to the forefront providing evidence of the tremendous strain on American’s mental health. In an attempt to confront the problem, national strategies have been presented by the White House. Although increasing access to mental health services, providing more education to health professionals, funding more mental health research, and decreasing stigma are imperative, I have a large concern we may be missing a vital component.
If you’ve been following me for a bit, you know I’ve been focusing intensely on the holistic approach to wellness. Integrating the body, mind, spirit, lifestyle, genetics, environment, and socioeconomics and offering resources to support these areas has been the recent theme within my naturopathic blogs. My goal has been to assist people in these areas in order that they can use health as a means to live more fully and align more passionately with their goals. These concepts hold true for addressing imbalances in both the body and mind, which ultimately cannot be separated.
In this post, I discuss the current mental health crisis and the latest national strategies to alleviate it.
I highlight how a more holistic approach to mental health is needed and the barriers to getting proper support.
The Current Mental Health Crisis
Unfortunately, what many mental health experts have feared, and have been warning about for the past few years, has come to fruition. The current events did in fact lead to a mental health crisis, with a lack of access and adequate resources to address it.
Today, the rates of people struggling with psychological scars and/or who are not getting proper care is so robust that the White House introduced a strategy to address the pressing situation. According to the government website:
Our country faces an unprecedented mental health crisis among people of all ages. Two out of five adults report symptoms of anxiety or depression. And, Black and Brown communities are disproportionately undertreated – even as their burden of mental illness has continued to rise. Even before the pandemic, rates of depression and anxiety were inching higher. But the grief, trauma, and physical isolation of the last two years have driven Americans to a breaking point.
Our youth have been particularly impacted as losses … and disruptions in routines and relationships have led to increased social isolation, anxiety, and learning loss. More than half of parents express concern over their children’s mental well-being. An early study has found that students are about five months behind in math and four months behind in reading, compared with students prior to the pandemic. In 2019, one in three high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an overall increase of 40 percent from 2009. Emergency department visits for attempted suicide have risen 51 percent among adolescent girls.
This toll on our society is heart-wrenching, especially for our youth.
(1) Strengthen System Capacity and Promote Diversity- This includes expanding the mental health workforce, providing incentives for increasing accessibility to care (especially where it is needed the most), and investing in more mental health research.
(2) Connect Americans to Care- Aspects include expanding access across a wide array of virtual and environmental locations, providing insurance coverage of mental health services, and integrating mental health care in a variety of settings.
(3) Support Americans by Creating Safe Environments- This step entails expanding privacy online and banning targeted ads to children, researching social media’s negative mental health effects, ceasing discriminatory algorithms, expanding student support, and training social and human service professionals in basic mental health.
I must applaud the fact that these strategies offer solutions within the socioeconomic and environmental factors of mental health. They offer more access to treatment, education, and support.
Where the plan falls short, in my opinion, is that it does not provide room for an approach that supports brain health and integrative wellness, which are needed to address the root causes of mental health.
Incorporating Wellness into Mental Health Care- Why the Mind-Body-Brain Needs Holistic Support
Without addressing all aspects of health that are important to an individual, by incorporating the wellness factors mentioned above, we could be just band aiding the situation with more access but ineffective or incomplete treatment. It will likely move the needle, but we need to do more.
I strongly believe you cannot treat the physical without looking at the emotional. Furthermore, you cannot treat the emotional without peering into what physiologically and biochemically impacts brain health. (R)
As stated in my article on Natural Path:
In my practice as a naturopathic doctor (ND), I find that a huge missing piece in modern and some integrative approaches is the dismissal of the imperative connection between the mind-body, social connections, and spiritual beliefs to health outcomes. During the world’s recent turmoil, I discussed how naturopathic medicine is poised to fill in the gap for holistic mental health and how NDs could be support agents for change in addressing the current psychological crisis. NDs have the ability to provide the nation with safe, holistic, and natural emotional support solutions. When these tools are used with my clients who have struggled and been blocked for years, I have witnessed massive shifts for the better.
For this reason, I have been laser focused on continuing the conversation of the mind-body connection and advocating for holistic mental health support and the use of naturopathic doctors as support mediators for transformation.
The government’s current steps are a start, but are they enough if the mind-body connection and brain health remain separate from psychiatric care? On the other end of the spectrum, natural therapies alone, without therapy and conventional care, likely cannot provide all the tools someone needs with a mental health diagnosis.
I don’t think we have to choose between methods, but we sure need to start supporting our mental health in a more comprehensive way.
In my previous post, I spoke about this:
The downside of “choosing one” treatment approach over the other (conventional and psychiatric therapy, CBT, or natural therapies) are as follows:
- If one simply uses natural therapies to “feel better,” they may not be addressing the underlying cognitive distortions or mindsets that trigger the compulsion or rumination to begin with. They may become dependent on the supplement, nutrient, or oil and eventually have to keep switching remedies because the underlying thinking is not being addressed.
- Not accounting for the brain health factors (e.g., hormones, nutrients, lifestyle factors, oxidative stress, genetic variations, etc.) that modulate neurochemistry and biology could make addressing the cognitive distortions extremely challenging. This is because their biology is overriding their psychology.
I have seen where nutritional support, essential oils, and brain nourishing foods can make transitions and discomfort with change much easier to manage. They can allow one to move through the uncertainty and uncomfortable feelings with more ease.
Using both CBT with additional natural tools can complement each other to reinforce new neural pathways.
The Barriers to Mental Health Relief- The Struggling Invisibles
All discussion on proper treatment is void if people don’t seek it out.
One of the major barriers to people getting help for mental health, besides a lack of available efficacious treatment, is stigma. Many people still view mental health as a willpower issue rather than a brain health issue.
Thankfully, today things seem to be turning around with this abundance of evidence demonstrating that those with psychiatric issues have different brain makeups. The conversation around mental health is starting to shift for the better. (R, R, R, R, R) People are now being asked to be accountable for their misinterpretation and judgement of those who have already been way too hard on themselves. Furthermore, more brave individuals are starting to step up and share their previously hidden struggles.
Yet, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Many people still don’t understand that just like every other symptom or health diagnosis, those with a psychiatric diagnosis also have an organ that is not optimally functioning. In some circles and cultures, a mental health condition is even viewed as a weakness that one should be able to fix. When one can’t just “snap out of it,” they suffer in silence. Worse, they face shame believing that they are weak-willed!
This is unfortunate. You cannot fix the mind using the very organ that needs outside support to help it get fixed!
My goal has been to provide both resources and information to educate others that mental health really is a brain health issue and those who struggle are not weak, have poor focus, or have a lack motivation. They have symptoms that are psychological because the organ that is responsible for cognition and mood is not functioning optimally. This is no different than someone having bodily manifestations of cardiovascular disease from poor heart health.
Reaching out is crucial and ending the stigma is vital.
Please do get the support you need if you struggle with mental health.
You may also wish to consider implementing the holistic resources I’ve been providing with your treatment and working with a naturopathic doctor. For example, I offer mind-body support for general mood issues using a functional medicine and wellness-oriented approach.
When the brain itself is misfiring and unbalanced, without proper treatment, it can be glossed over as a painful, invisible wound by the sufferer. It’s time to end the hurt.
Feel free to comment on this post and share it widely.
Click here to learn more about my approach to whole-person, mind-body care.
Naturopathic Medicine and Essential Oils Resources for Holistic Mind-Body and Wellness Support
- If you’d like to learn more about essential oils’ properties and their use for whole-body support, view my database here.
- You can discover the five reasons essential oils and naturopathic medicine make a great team here.
- Feel free to explore my dedicated essential oils website which features the brand of essential oils I use with clients and information on specific products for healthy living.
- Finally, grab my free essential oils guide! It contains all the information you need to get started with essential oils! Even if you are a seasoned oiler, signing up to get the guide will provide access to future education on essential oils and wellness topics. Click here.
Upcoming Mind-Body-Heart-Spirit Passion Project
Be on the lookout in the upcoming months for an invitation to join an opportunity that truly incorporates all integrative aspects of health, including human connection and relationships.
This is part of my passion project to bring the heart and mind-body-spirit back into the forefront of medicine.
I’d love for you to join me and allow me to guide you in the process of becoming a more vibrant, healthier, happier person!
Disclaimer: This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and Canva.